On January 13th 1963 the president of the West African nation of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, who had been a prominent figure in that country's fight for independence from France, was assassinated in the capital Lomé. Though the killing shocked the world and marked the first coup d'État in post-colonial Africa, there has never been a proper investigation into who carried out his murder and why. Today, 58 years later, his family are still seeking to “know the truth” about Olympio's death. They are calling for access to France's official archives, hoping that diplomatic reports from the former colonial power will help shed light on this unsolved affair. Fanny Pigeaud reports.
The businessman had negotiated a deal with the French financial prosecution unit, the Parquet National Financier, under the terms of which he would have only received a fine of 375,000 euros over a corruption case in West Africa. But on Friday February 26th a court in Paris rejected the plea bargain agreement, ruling that it was too favourable to Vincent Bolloré, whose group has a string of economic interests in African countries. Fabrice Arfi and Yann Philippin report.
Around a quarter of the world's gold production is in Africa and extraction of the precious metal has been been stepped up as its price on world markets has increased. But a significant proportion of this mining is carried out illegally by small-scale miners and much of the gold then finds its way into the hands of criminal and armed groups across the continent before being sold in the Middle East. Fanny Pigeaud reports on attempts to clean up the sector through stronger regulations.
An exhibition in Paris reveals Poland's now forgotten colonial ambitions in the 1930s. In doing so, it makes a link between past Polish attitudes to colonies and other peoples and the racist reflexes of some governments in Central and Eastern Europe today. Ludovic Lamant reports.
There has been a steep increase in the number of African visitors who have had their visa applications rejected by the French authorities over the last five years. According to applicants and lawyers, requests to visit France regularly get turned down for no good reason. Yet, as Fanny Pigeaud reports, a recent case in Nantes in western France shows that some visa refusals can be overturned by the courts.
The French businessman Vincent Bolloré has been placed under formal investigation over the alleged corruption of foreign public officials and complicity in corruption. The probe into the well-connected businessman, who has amassed much of his fortune through his dealings in Africa, relates to how one of its companies won the concessions to run the ports at Lomé in Togo and Conakry in Guinea, and the use of his communications firm in the electoral campaigns of African leaders. Martine Orange gives the background to the allegations.
Many experts in Africa want to see an end of the 'CFA franc', the currency backed by the French Treasury which was created 70 years ago and still used by 14 former colonies on the continent. But as Fanny Pigeaud reports in this second and concluding article on Africa's 'Franc Zone', the French authorities take a dim view of any criticism of the currency.
by Fanny Pigeaud
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